The Fantasy Basement is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or two. Why “Fantasy Basement” you ask? There is a common misconception that sports writers dwell in their childhood cellars, that the institution promotes arrested development. Um…how does that have negative connotation? After all, who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to fresh-baked cookies and having their laundry done?…Anyway, enjoy!
QB: Carson Palmer, Cardinals
Remember him? The Cardinals may have lost in Palmer’s debut, but the former Heisman winner provided a sound presence at a position that lacked stability last season, tossing for 327 yards and two touchdowns versus a formidable St. Louis defense in Week 1. (Seriously, pretty sure Larry Fitzgerald is still in therapy after dealing with Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb.)
He’s far from the premier passer of yesteryear, yet Bruce Arians’ offense, one which is sprinkled with assets like Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, should facilitate a benevolent statistical display for Palmer and his fantasy owners in 2013. Although the Arizona line could struggle against Detroit’s front seven, the Lions secondary can be exploited. View Palmer as a sneaky play in Week 2. Other starts: Matthew Stafford, Terrelle Pryor
RB: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Work allotment has encumbered Williams the past two seasons, as the 2008 All-Pro received a modest 328 carries in this time span. This year should be a different tale, as backfield cohort Jonathan Stewart is expected to be sidelined most of the fall with ankle issues. Along with Carolina’s wishes to cut down on Cam Newton’s terrain forays, these developments should bequeath the majority of touches to Williams this fall.
Williams showed he’s up to this task last week, accumulating 76 yards on 16 carries, adding three grabs for 14 yards in the receiving arena. Facing a porous Buffalo resistance on Sunday, expect Williams to be a top-10 contributor among backs this weekend. Other starts: Lamar Miller, Eddie Lacy
WR: Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots
Damn, I had Week 4 in my Danny Amendola Injury office pool!
Amendola’s trip to the infirmary puts the spotlight on Julian Edelman, who received nine targets from Tom Brady last week to post seven receptions for 79 yards and two scores. While Edelman will be a nice play in PPR leagues, I’m looking toward Thompkins, who actually received more looks than Edelman with 14 balls in his direction versus Buffalo. As easy as it is to poke fun at the Jets, the Gang Green pass defense isn’t too shabby. Nevertheless, the Patriots will persist as an offense that attacks from the sky, meaning Thompkins should see a plethora of opportunities. View the undrafted rookie as a strong WR2 or Flex option. Other starts: Mike Williams, Cecil Shorts
TE: Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
Pettigrew was a bust last week, hauling in a mere two balls for six yards. Worse, he lost a fumble, equating to a negative day for his fantasy proprietors. Pettigrew will never develop into his projection as an elite tight end, but he remains a dependable top-12 playmaker at his position. The Cardinals surrendered over 140 yards to Jared Cook last week, and Arizona’s defense is hurting from the suspension of Pro Bowler Daryl Washington. Available in nearly 35 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, Pettigrew is a smart play in most standard formats. Other starts: Jermichael Finley, Greg Olsen
DEF: Cincinnati Bengals
Maurkice Pouncey’s season-ending injury paints an ominous forecast for the Steelers offense, especially against a daunting Cincinnati front line this Monday night. As long as the Bengals can count how many players are on the field and refrain from unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, the Who Dey defense should run a train on Pittsburgh.
Then again, this is the Bengals we’re talking about, so tread lightly. Other starts: Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers
QB: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
My season outlook on Mr. Wilson was already tempered. Against the vaunted 49ers defense? No thanks.
Yes, he found the end zone four times in his last meeting with San Francisco, but he also tossed a pick and had just 171 passing yards. Combined with his first outing against the 49ers (9-for-23, 122 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception), not sure where this “Wilson OWNS the Niners!” nonsense is coming from. Other sits: Ben Roethlisberger, EJ Manuel
RB: Chris Johnson, Titans
The animosity harbored by the fantasy community to Johnson is comical. I know he disappointed in 2011 and underwhelmed in the first month of 2012, but the Tennessee back still rushed for over 1,200 yards last season, and has over 7,000 yards through his first 80 games in the league. And you try running with Jake Locker as your quarterback, ok? LEAVE CHRIS JOHNSON ALONE!
Alas, not on the Johnson Train this week, as Houston’s defense is too tall an obstacle to overcome. In deeper leagues, Johnson can be considered for the Flex, and wouldn’t blame managers if they kept him in at RB2. Just prepare yourself for less-than-desired output. Other sits: Frank Gore, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
WR: Stevie Johnson, Bills
Johnson’s touchdown helped mask an otherwise pedestrian day, with the Kentucky product notching three receptions for 39 yards. Despite the promising showings of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin in camp, Johnson endures as the primary target in the Buffalo offense. Unfortunately, with EJ Manuel under center, the Bills aerial game will persist as erratic. A matchup with a better-than-believed Carolina secondary this weekend won’t alleviate that sentiment anytime soon. Other sits: Sidney Rice, Greg Jennings
TE: Kellen Winslow, Jets
Be honest, you had no idea this cat was still in the league, did you?
Winslow had a commendable outing last week, bringing in seven catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Santonio Holmes is recovering from a foot injury and the rest of the Jets receivers are, well, not exactly a majestic bunch. Moreover, Geno Smith won’t be confused with RG3 anytime soon, and the Jets are a run-first offense. Still, as the de facto No. 1 option, Winslow might be a serviceable fantasy choice in 2013.
Unfortunately, that theory will not apply in Week 2, as the Patriots are one of the tougher defenses against tight ends. Only start in deeper formats. Other sits: Zach Miller, Fred Davis
DEF: Kansas City Chiefs
With a strong core of Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry, Kansas City is more than capable of transforming into an elite defense. The main word there is “capable,” as last week’s smackdown against the Jaguars is not a realistic glimpse of the defense’s merit. (Fairly confident Blaine Gabbert couldn’t start in my Thanksgiving pick-up game.) Against a high-octane offense like Dallas, best to keep Kansas City on the bench. Other sits: Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams
Waiver Wire Watch: Charles Clay, Dolphins
Don’t read too much into a report that Miami wants to reduce Clay’s time going forward, with the tight end logging 64 snaps against the Browns. With Dustin Keller out for the year, Clay will be Miami’s main man at tight end, and in Joe Philbin’s offense, that position is utilized to a heightened degree. Clay is third on the Dolphins’ totem pole behind Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, and we certainly aren’t prognosticating Clay will transform into a preeminent entity. However, available in nearly every FOXSports.com fantasy football league, Clay is a decent backup TE add that could work himself into the starting rotation depending on advantageous matchups.
Email of the Week
In our opening Fantasy Basement, I recommended Patriots’ tight end Zach Sudfeld as a start against a shaky Bills offense. Well, after posting a goose egg versus Buffalo, my mailbox was full of messages like this…
To quote an apologetic Happy Gilmore in front of Chubbs Peterson, “I’m stupid. You’re smart. I was wrong. You were right. You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re very good-looking. I’m not attractive…”
However, I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up on Sudfeld just yet. Even when Rob Gronkowski returns, I’m keeping the faith that Sudfeld can be an integral part of the New England offense. (Note the loyalty in tough times, single ladies.)
Fantasy Flyer: Marlon Brown, Ravens
Super Bowl hero Jacoby Jones is out four-to-six weeks, Dennis Pitta likely won’t be back until Week 12, Torrey Smith has been inconsistent in his first two years in the NFL and Dallas Clark just dropped his laptop trying to read this article. Enter Brown, who was on the field for 68 plays last Thursday, saw six targets and finished with four receptions and 65 yards. The Baltimore defense is not as stout as its historical brethren, equating to an amplified amount of passing plays from Joe Flacco and company. (Did you just wince too?) Cleveland’s Joe Haden is fresh off shutting down Mike Wallace in Week 1, and will probably be assigned to Smith when the Browns square off against the Ravens on Sunday. This should open a window for the rookie out of Georgia to shine, and could be the difference in deeper formats this week.
This Week in Kevin Walter
Thanks to all the nominations for the Fantasy Basement’s new poster boy after hanging up Kevin Walter’s banner from the rafters last week. There were multiple suggestions for Seattle corner Richard Sherman, but Sherman lets everyone know his superiority every chance he gets. We are looking for a more subdued cowboy, one who mirrors Teddy Roosevelt’s ideology of Big Stick diplomacy.
Keeping this dogma in mind, our three candidates:
Brent Celek, Eagles
Vonta Leach, Ravens
T.Y. Hilton, Colts
Cast your votes in the comment section down below or on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.
Personal Foul on: Mike Wallace, Dolphins
As I wrote in Monday’s Weekend Warrior, Wallace looks like a chauch crying about his lack of production after his team WON. Have to feel for the man, though. Can’t imagine the emotional toll moving from Pittsburgh to South Beach for a $60 million contract will do on one’s psyche. Dude’s a trooper.
Gatorade Shower Goes to: Chip Kelly, Eagles
There was a heavy contingent that stated Kelly’s up-tempo offense would fail in the NFL. Granted, more than a few beat reporters were predicting a letdown for the Eagles because, well, they were still bawling over their lack of access in Philly’s camp. It’s just one week, but…
SCOREBOARD: Kelly 1, Haters 0